Chief negotiator calls for EU involvement in strengthened UN force to end conflict with Sudan.
South Sudan would like the international community to upgrade its military mission to the country and the EU to contribute troops, its chief negotiator said yesterday.
The call, by Pagan Amum, comes against the backdrop of continuing clashes between Sudan and South Sudan, which seceded from the north in July 2011.
Intermittent clashes since January have in the past month turned into substantial military engagement on the ground, with repeated reports of aerial bombardment by Sudan. Already, roughly half of Sudan’s oil-production capacity appears to have been crippled. There have been warnings that the clashes could turn into a full-scale war, evoking memories of Sudan’s decades-long civil war, which ended only in 2005 and led eventually to South Sudan’s independence.
In an interview with European Voice in Brussels, Amum said that South Sudan was prepared to return to negotiations “without preconditions” and fully accepted the roadmap to peace drawn up on Tuesday (24 April) by the international contact group leading peace-making efforts, the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
“We are actually asking to have it strengthened,” he said, with a stronger international force than the UN currently has on the ground. The UN’s secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said on 21 April that troops from the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) were ready to be deployed to the area of the conflict.
UNISFA , which was established last year, comprised 3,716 troops and 83 military observers as of 31 March, drawn from Russia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tunisia. Amum said that he would like the EU to contribute personnel.
The EU’s foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton, yesterday (26 April) reiterated the EU’s support for the AUHIP roadmap.
Amum discussed two of the thorniest issues in relations between Juba and Khartoum: borders and oil.
He called for international arbitration on settling border disputes, most sensitively in the oil-rich Abyei region, to the west of Heglig.
In March, Juba and Khartoum had reiterated their commitment to discuss oil issues, as part of broader discussions. But Amum said yesterday that South Sudan would not discuss oil, reiterating a statement he made on 23 April that Sudan has made a strategic decision not to pipe oil northward through Sudan in future.
In January, South Sudan turned off the taps to South Sudan – even though it currently has no alternative routes for oil and even though 98% of its official revenues come from oil.
South Sudan cut supplies because, it said, Sudan had siphoned off oil; Sudan said it took the oil as compensation for unpaid transit fees.
Clashes at the border in late March and early April were followed, on 10 April, by South Sudan’s capture of the Heglig oil fields in Sudan on 10 April, a move condemned internationally. On 20 April, a day after a visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, South Sudan withdrew – or, South Sudan claims, was forced out. Reports suggest that oil field infrastructure has been so severely damaged that Sudan’s oil-producing capacity (115,000 a day) may have been halved.
Amum said that South Sudan is now developing plans for alternative routes.
Funding for new pipelines – two are being considered – is among the topics that Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s president, is currently raising on a five-day visit to China, which has large economic interests in both South Sudan and Sudan.
Amum’s diplomatic mission to Europe is taking him to Norway and the UK, two of the three members of the international troika of countries most involved in negotiating an end to Sudan’s civil war. (The other member is the US.)
In Brussels, he met the two European commissioners responsible for aid and development, Kristalina Georgieva (international co-operation and humanitarian aid) and Andris Piebalgs (development), and the deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid.
Amum said he would like to see more international engagement in Sudan. Attention has waned, he said, since the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement in 2005, which ended a civil war that began in 1983.
Amum was the official spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army from 1994 onwards.
|US Officials Press for Sudan-South Sudan Talks
Voice of America
April 26, 2012 US Officials Press for Sudan-South Sudan Talks Michael Bowman | Capitol Hill The simmering conflict between Sudan and South Sudan has yet to escalate into full-scale war, but it threatens to deepen a humanitarian crisis that is already …
|Arab League condemns South Sudan ‘aggression’
Seattle Post Intelligencer
CAIRO (AP) — The Arab League on Thursday condemned South Sudan’s “military aggression” against Heglig, saying the oil-rich border region belongs to Sudan. A statement by Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo also supported what it called Sudan’s …
|In South Sudan border lands oil brings bombs, not blessings
By Hereward Holland | BENTIU, South Sudan (Reuters) – Despite a dozen years of oil extraction inSouth Sudan’s Unity state, the capital Bentiu has little to show for it. Donkeys drag carts bearing oil drums filled with water around the dusty, …
|South Sudan wants EU to send troops
By Andrew Gardner – Today, 10:12 CET Chief negotiator calls for EU involvement in strengthened UN force to end conflict with Sudan. South Sudan would like the international community to upgrade its military mission to the country and the EU to …
|Oxfam: South Sudan refugees face water shortages
San Francisco Chronicle
(04-27) 02:53 PDT NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An aid agency says tens of thousands of refugees inSouth Sudan’s Jamam camp must be urgently moved to a new site to escape life-threatening water shortages and fatal diseases. Oxfam’s spokesman Alun McDonald …
|South Sudan says Sudan-backed militia attacks oil state
JUBA (Reuters) – South Sudan, embroiled in border fighting with its northern neighbor Sudan for the past month, said on Friday that Sudanese-backed rebel militia had attacked a town in the South’s oil-producing Upper Nile state, broadening the conflict …